Whatever Happened to LiveJournal?
Before Facebook and Twitter there was MySpace, and before that there was also Friendster. But that whole time, another website offered a place to connect with friends and meet people with similar interests. LiveJournal.com was one of the original community and personal blogging platforms. In our "status update" culture, it's hard to believe that a site like LiveJournal ever held our interest - and still does for many. Unlike the "status update" sites, LiveJournal is a place where people took the time to share what was going on in their lives.
Carlen Lea Lesser, VP/Director, Digital Integration & Innovation
LiveJournal, a personal blogging and community website, launched in 1999 to help one group of friends stay in touch. At this time the idea of the "social Web" was just beginning to hit the mainstream. Message boards had been around since the beginning of the Internet in one form or another, but the idea of the Web as a place to have a true community was far from a mainstream idea when LiveJournal came on the scene. LiveJournal offered a way for friends to keep in touch virtually, but unlike Facebook it was more than just quick status updates. On LiveJournal, people wrote long (especially by today's standards) open letters to friends who would then respond and engage in a dialogue with the original writer and each other. Simply put, it was personal blogging before most people really thought of blogging as normal. In addition to keeping in touch with friends, LiveJournal also provided ways to connect with affinity groups online and exchange ideas. Again, today this is perfectly normal, but even five years ago this was new to many people.
LiveJournal is still around and active, but most everyone I know has migrated to Facebook and/or Twitter - or so I thought. LiveJournal never captured the popular imagination like MySpace did or Facebook has. Unlike MySpace, which went from "hot to not," LiveJournal has maintained a very steady level of activity over the years. There have been peaks and valleys, but nothing like the meteoric rises and falls that other popular social networks, like Friendster, Vox, and MySpace, have experienced. LiveJournal seems to have captured the attention and dedication of a niche group of people, and maintained it over time.
Implications and Action Items
LiveJournal is the story of the tortoise and the hare. While LiveJournal never had the incredible success of MySpace or Facebook, it also has not seen the same failure. LiveJournal is a community site that supports personal blogs and interest groups. Unlike MySpace, it has never tried to directly compete with Facebook. It has innovated over the years, for example adding social gaming in February 2011.1
With 21 million reported members and 8 million monthly unique visitors,2
LiveJournal seems still to have a role to play for many people. Here are some lessons I've learned from revisiting LiveJournal:
1 Games.com, "LiveJournal launches social games channel with…four games." February 8, 2011: http://tiny.cc/kj579
- Identity: Know who you are and what you do, and don't try to be all things to all people.
- Experiment and innovate: Stay true to your core, but also be willing to experiment - especially if you see your customers are finding ways to use your product in ways you never expected.
- Find a niche: There's nothing wrong with being a niche offering. The trick is ensuring that you have a steady income stream and appropriate spending levels.
2 LiveJournal sales report page: http://tiny.cc/vemk5